What Does an Atheist Feel Listening to Christmas Songs?
by Glemir Sordilla
You know you are a Filipino when the “-ber” months come in and you wake up to “whenever I see girls and boys selling lanterns on the streets,” iconic lyrics from Jose Mari Chan’s song. No, I am not kidding. I wish I am. This has been my fate once September came rolling in, courtesy of my father’s lively playlist.
Being an atheist in a country that is known for its tremendous Christmas spirit, the country that celebrates from September to February, being surrounded by this religious aura is quite draining. Every time the chorus of “Christmas Bonus” gets stuck on my brain, it gives me a migraine. That point is more on the technicality of the song and how it is too cheery and upbeat.
I will come clean myself, listening to Christmas songs is one of my guilty pleasure before. I associate their tunes with comforting times that gives a sense of nostalgia. There was an article I stumbled upon a while ago that recommends the best Christmas song for atheists without all that magical things. It has gems that we already know since we were a kid. “White Christmas,” has become a classic and is written by an agnostic. When I listen to this it brings me to the middle of New York while snow is pouring. I can assure you I have never been to that city and I never witnessed snow. “Jingle Bells” is also listed. A bit overplayed and too enthusiastic but the memory of me singing this to gain money is worth reliving.
It is widely assumed that atheists hate Christmas or Christmas songs. Many might hate it. Others don’t care about it and think those are okay, example is Javan Lev, a fellow HAPI Scholar, who told me he is Grinch, the famous main character from “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” On the other hand, there are also atheists who say they can sing and play Christmas carols all year round.
At the end of the day, these holiday songs can give us the same feeling as the songs in our playlist but during this season they are just redundantly blasted on our radios. Realizing that I don’t believe in any deity, my pleasure in singing these songs also diminished. That is a similar experience to Marissa Torres-Langseth or Ms. M, HAPI Founder, when she told me she used to “cry a lot” when “I’ll be Home For Christmas” starts playing but not anymore. The songs about celebrating a person’s birth, prancing reindeers, and elves lose their lyrical meaning but through these tunes, some memories are being brought back and they are worth remembering.